Blue Devils debut without Gray, explode in second half to top FSU | Sports

Blue Devils debut without Gray, explode in second half to top FSU



CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM The rest of the season starts for Duke tonight.

Duke center Elizabeth Williams
The No. 5 Blue Devils (24-1, 14-0 ACC) will go for the first time this year without junior guard Chelsea Gray, the solid candidate for ACC player of the year who was lost for the season because of a dislocated kneecap Sunday against Wake Forest.

Tonight’s opponent is No. 19 Florida State (20-5, 10-4), which is coming off an attention-grabbing 80-73 win over visiting UNC on Sunday.

Juniors Richa Jackson and Tricia Liston will start on the wings for Duke tonight.

The Blue Devils struggle early but come up with a huge second-half run, escaping with a 61-50 victory.

The first half is not pretty, with the Blue Devils taking a 20-18 lead into the locker room. Three Duke players have six points apiece while Leonor Rodriguez has half a dozen for the Seminoles.

FSU shoots 26.7 percent before the break to Duke’s 25.8. Duke leads the rebound battle 28-19, but commits 15 turnovers to the visitors’ 10.

The Seminoles go up 24-20 on Natasha Howard’s layup with 18:22 to go. But Duke responds with a 30-6 run, including a 15-0 streak, to go up 50-30 on Haley Peters’ reverse layup with 7:27 left.

FSU slices the lead to 55-48 with 1:48 left on a pair of Morgan Toles free throws, but can get no closer.

Elizabeth Williams leads Duke with 20 points and 13 rebounds, her 10th career double-double and fifth of the season. Chloe Wells adds 15 points while Peters pulls down a career-best 14 rebounds to go with her four points.

Alexa Deluzio leads the Seminoles with 16 points, followed by Howard with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Duke shoots 33.9 percent to FSU’s 28.8 and dominates the boards 51-39. The Blue Devils commit 22 turnovers to the visitors’ 21.

They said it …

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “It was a nice battle for our team. We can certainly play a lot better. Shooting 34 percent isn’t one of our better games. I loved our grit and our fight. … (Without Gray) we’re a new team, it’s a new season. The important thing is that we go on as a team and focus on this team being great. I thought greatness came in the second half.”

FSU coach Sue Semrau: “What a great environment! I think this is one of the special places to play in college basketball. I thought when Duke closed the gap and started making that run and pulled ahead, the crowd made the difference. … I thought it really took us out of our game a little bit, and we certainly didn’t get the production we wanted.”

Williams: “I could definitely feel the energy — we were getting so many stops defensively that it got the crowd involved. Having that extra push from the crowd is nice.”

Wells: “I just played hard without really thinking about all the stuff that’s been going on. I know that Chelsea went down and that’s a big blow to us. We were pressing early in the game, so I just tried to get the team to slow down and play our game.”

What does it all mean?
That Duke is still on track to take the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament, although not a single remaining game is easy. And that FSU is good enough to compete with a Top 5 team on the road.

Stars of the game
1. Williams.
2. Wells.
3. Peters.

Play of the game
Richa Jackson’s three-point play with 8:49 left to make it 46-28.

Duke: Won 9.
FSU: Lost 1.


Duke leads 34-8.

Up next
FSU at Virginia Tech, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Duke at Maryland, Sunday, 3 p.m.

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